How to answer the interview question “Where you do want to be in 5 years?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. This will be the last post until Monday when we resume our 31 business day journey to helping you succeed at answering some of the most frequently asked interview questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “What do you consider to be your biggest strength?” If you haven’t read that post check it out after we go through today’s question. Today we will be tackling the interview question, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

Now there are actually a few versions of this question you might be asked. You might be asked what are you career goals. Or how do you see yourself expanding professionally within the next five years. But basically, they are all getting at one main concept. Do you have a vision for your future? Do you have a plan?

The most successful people in the world plan. Most people don’t trip, stumble and fall into success. Success is having a goal, breaking down the steps you need to take to achieve that success and tirelessly pursuing those goals and objectives until you reach your target.

So, when you are asked this question, its best to have a plan. However, its best to have a plan that is reasonable as well. When you answer this question, there are a few no no’s. The first is it needs to be something achievable. If you are asked what you want to be doing in five years as you are interviewing for a Jr Accountant and your answer is CFO, that isn’t really a realistic target. They will either think you are naive or are not taking the question seriously.

Secondly, avoid answers that make it seem like you aren’t interested in your current role. If you are interviewing for that same Jr Accountant role and your answer is “I wanted to be leading scrums as a software developer, I am currently take night classes to get a computer science degree.” That may be honest but to me it says I am actively taking steps to move out of the role I am currently interviewing for.

There are also some things you want to make sure you do. I always liked stating my interest in the current role before I moved on to stating where I liked to be. For example, I might say, “Well currently I really enjoy recruiting so my short term goal is to continue to develop and grow my skills in recruitment. However, in five years I would like to be in a role or making good progress to a role in which I am able to lead a team of recruiters.”  Answering like this is helpful because it lets them know you aren’t a flight risk and you still have learning to do in your current role but it also lets them know you have a vision for your future.

You should also mention development steps you are currently taking if they happen to be relevant. For example, if you have interest in people managing and you are currently completing your MBA, I would mention that while answering this question. And as with every question, I consider it important to be enthusiastic while answering.

Well there you have it. If you can do those things correctly, you will be able to knock this question out of the park. If you liked this post, please feel free to share. Make sure you come back Monday when we tackle our next interview question, “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?” Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!

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